For the final time this week we're here to bring you all the race results, tips, insight and market movers for Cheltenham, with Gold Cup taking centre stage...
Cleary talks us through day 4 as the Irish dominate once more
The Cheltenham Gold Cup followed the script of the week, with Irish stables dominating the finish. However, Al Boum Photo was unable to complete a historic hat-trick of wins, while the leading rider of the week Rachael Blackmore was on the wrong one of Henry de Bromhead's two runners, A Plus Tard denied by last year's RSA Chase runner-up Minella Indo.
Frodon ensured a soundly-run race and was still just in front three out. Minella Indo had travelled strongly close up, while A Plus Tard and Al Boum Photo both looked poised to pounce, the quartet going clear. Frodon was soon done with and Al Boum Photo lacked a turn of foot at a crucial point, but the de Bromhead pair forged on.
Minella Indo always just had the edge after the second last, but had to be ridden right out by Jack Kennedy as A Plus Tard stuck to his guns.
Minella Indo was spot on on the day in a division where there hasn't been an outstanding performer. He followed last season's RSA third Allaho in winning at the meeting (that one's win in the Ryanair the outstanding form effort of the week), but Champ, who won that race, was pulled up after less than a mile in the Gold Cup following mistakes.
Native River emerged best of the hone team, staying on past the tiring Frodon for fourth. He'd been off the bridle from the off on ground that was just too quick for him at this level.
Irish stables had also landed the first three races on the card. Quilixios justified heavy support in the Triumph Hurdle. He got the better of Adagio and Haut En Couleurs with the favourite Zanahiyr only fourth.
Quilixios, who isn't a taking sort physically by any means, didn't win by far enough to prove conclusively that he's the best in this division. Zanahiyr, who had looked so good before the turn of the year but had been off since, clearly wasn't in the same form, while Haut En Couleurs might well improve again, this only his second start over hurdles.
In the Albert Bartlett, Vanillier run out an 11-length winner, much improved for the increased emphasis on stamina, giving his trainer Gavin Cromwell a second winner at the meeting after Flooring Porter. Vanillier didn't make all, like that one, but he was close up travelling smoothly all the way and kicked clear turning for home. He has the pedigree for chasing and could well be.
Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
Winner: Galopin Des Champs
Betfair Starting Price and ISP: 10.7 BSP 98/1 ISP
Antepost High of Winner: 3837/1
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Galopin Des Champs 9.89/1, Langer Dan 21/1, Gentleman De Mee 3.39/4
Willie Mullins clinches the top trainer title in the very last race, his Galopin Des Champs given a patient ride by Sean O'Keeffe before quickening nicely to see off a host of challengers without being seriously threatened.
Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase
Betfair Starting Price and ISP: 3.39/4 BSP 3.259/4 ISP
Antepost High of Winner: 3433/1
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Colreevy 3.55, Elimay 1.528/15, Shattered Love 32/1
An exciting finish to this brand new addition to the festival programme. The top two in the market went head to head with each other a long way out, but it was Coolreevy who was able to stick her neck out and edge it for Willie Mullins. The first of many mares chase wins for him we suspect.
Winner: Porlock Bay
Betfair Starting Price and ISP: 2120/1 BSP 1716/1 ISP
Antepost High of Winner: 4039/1
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Porlock Bay 3433/1, Latenightpass 3.55/2, 21/1, Billaway 1.374/11
A rare victory for Britain over Ireland this week, as Porlock Bay prevails by a whisker, under Lorcan Williams, in a photo from favourite Billaway, with both refusing to give up in a thrilling finish.
Winner: Minella Indo
Betfair Starting Price and ISP: 9.6017/2 BSP 10 ISP
Antepost High of Winner: 2928/1
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Minella Indo 1110/1, Al Boum Photo 21/1, A Plus Tard 1.392/5
An Irish 1-2-3 in National Hunt's Blue Riband event! Ridden handily the whole way by Jack Kennedy, the winner kicked clear rounding the final bend, then got the jump he needed over the last, and just had enough in hand to hold off the determined late charge of A Plus Tard.
An Irish 1-2-3 in National Hunt's biggest race. Ridden handily the whole way by Jack Kennedy Minella Indo wins the 2021 GoldCup at the #CheltenhamFestival? Betfair Racing (@BetfairRacing) March 19, 2021
BSP of 9.60. Runner up A Plus Tard hit 1.39 in-running! #CheltenhamWithBetfair pic.twitter.com/szG2TXndAj
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Betfair Starting Price and ISP: 22.021/1 BSP 15.014/1 ISP
Antepost High of Winner: 95.094/1
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Vanillier 34.033/1, Fakiera 2.0621/20, Stattler 2.3811/8
Gavin Cromwell repeats his trick from yesterday with another resounding staying hurdle victory with Vanillier. Mark Walsh picked up the spare ride and he pressed on a fair way out, but still had more than enough petrol in the tank to last home, and was even going away from them again as he hit the line. Hat tip to Rhys Williams, who had the 1-2 at huge prices in his tipping column today.
A Big chance for Bucks
The Albert Bartlett next up and Paul Nicholls is keen on his Barbados Bucks going into the race. Read his full column here, including thoughts on his other runner here, Threeunderthrufive.
Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle? Betfair Racing (@BetfairRacing) March 19, 2021
Paul Nicholls. Barbados Bucks is one of those horses who will keep galloping all day, is just the type you need for the Albert Bartlett and will be fine on the drying ground. pic.twitter.com/G1egQWSFtz
County Handicap Hurdle
Winner: Belfast Banter
Betfair Starting Price and ISP: 40.039/1 BSP 34.033/1 ISP
Antepost High of Winner: 60.059/1
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Belfast Banter 200.0199/1, Third Time Lucki 3.052/1, Eclair De Beaufeu 3.02/1, Milkwood 1.21/5
A fiercely competitive handicap run at a furious gallop. Any number still held a chance as they flew the last flight, but it was Belfast Banter who found the extra gear up the hill for Peter Fahey and Kevin Sexton. Éclair De Beaufeu ran into the places, meaning another winner for Tony Calvin.
A fiercely competitive handicap run at a furious gallop. Any number still held a chance as they flew the last flight, but it was Belfast Banter who found the extra gear up the hill.? Betfair Racing (@BetfairRacing) March 19, 2021
BSP of 40 and hit 200 in-running. #CheltenhamWithBetfairpic.twitter.com/UHE6i3TVTX
Betfair Starting Price and ISP: 3.211/5 BSP 3.02/1 ISP
Antepost High of Winner: 18.5
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Quilixios 5.39/2 Zanahiyr 2.166/5
The Rachel Blackmore success story shows no sign of stopping. Another finely judged ride, she injected some pace round the final turn on Quilixios and soon had the others on the stretch.
The Rachel Blackmore success story shows no sign of stopping after another finely judged ride with Quilixios landing the Triumph Hurdle.? Betfair Racing (@BetfairRacing) March 19, 2021
BSP of 3.2 with Zanahiyr touching 2.16 in-running. #CheltenhamWithBetfairpic.twitter.com/NkLYZIKRv1
All our tips to see you through Gold Cup day
It's Friday. It's Gold Cup day. What a dream combination we get to enjoy once a year.
All you're lacking now is tips, right? Well we've done the hard work for you, and put all our best bets from our tipsters and ambassadors in one place.
Read a tip for every race right here. Enjoy.
Dudman's back for more one last time
It's a shame the Festival is drawing to a close for Al Dudman, who yet again fired in another winner with Mount Ida. He's back with another double for Gold Cup day, which you can read about here.
Rhys looking to strike again
Straight off the back of his winner yesterday in Mrs Milner, Rhys Williams is has three big-priced selections in the Albert Bartlett.
Fancy an each-way swing? Then read his column here.
Listen to the Gold Cup podcast
We've kept Tony and Kevin busy this week, with daily podcast appearances as well as their tipping columns. Listen to the Racing...Only Bettor Day 4 preview here...
Your best bets for Day 4
We made it, folks. It's Friday and the final day of what's been a very different, but still fascinating, Cheltenham Festival. Let's kick off with a look at where our experts think the value is, with our Day 4 Cheat Sheet. Both Tony Calvin and Kevin Blake have been in great form - can they land some more winners?
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